6 October 2001 | BrianDanaCamp
Superb kung fu film with Carter Wong and Sammo Hung
TRAITOROUS (aka SHAOLIN TRAITOROUS, 1976) is another unsung kung fu gem from the mid-1970s and features surprisingly strong work by three second-rank stars of the era (Carter Wong, Polly Shang Kwan, Chang Yi) and a spectacular villainous turn by one of the future star-directors of the genre (Sammo Hung).
The standard storyline benefits from a straightforward structure following the quest for vengeance by a boy who witnesses his parents' murders at the hands of corrupt officials. The boy's first move is to apprentice himself at Shaolin Temple to learn kung fu. After an extremely well-crafted training sequence (on a par with similarly-styled Shaw Bros. scenes), the boy grows up to be Carter Wong (BORN INVINCIBLE, WHEN TAEDWONDO STRIKES) and sets out to track down the murderous nobles.
He is confronted by a female fighter, played by Polly Shang Kwan (DRAGON GATE INN, 99 CYCLING SWORDS), who's a member of the court, but soon learns the two have a common enemy in the ranking official (Chang Yi), who was responsible for the deaths of both their parents. Sammo Hung appears as one of the villains and has a sprawling bout with Carter in the Taiwanese countryside set against a mountainous landscape.
There are lots of expertly staged fights in outdoor locations. The kung fu is above average and Carter and Polly are as good here as they've ever been. Sammo has less to do, but his scenes are worth savoring. The bad guys display some great moves directed by Sammo who employs drumbeats to cue his dozen or so guardsmen to perform different maneuvers and create varied formations. Carter and Polly use some clever thinking to figure out how to thwart this strategy before their final two-on-one bout with Chang Yi.
TRAITOROUS is that rarity among kung fu movies available in the U.S.-letter-boxed, subtitled in English and heard in its original language (Mandarin). It's a well-produced film, with excellent cinematography and an original music score. The director is Sung Ting Mei, who also gave us SHAOLIN RED MASTER.